Match Day Match Reaction

Match Report: Everton 2-0 Manchester United

It’s been a horribly frequent pattern all season. United win a few games, show a bit of spirit, look occasionally convincing and we start to think the long-awaited recovery might be just around the corner. Then the whole thing falls apart in a display of astonishing ineptitude underpinned by inept tactics and schoolboy errors. Such was the case here. It wasn’t that United’s players didn’t show some nice passing play around the area at least early in the game, but the careless way in which the back door was repeatedly left wide open for Everton’s attacking players to exploit, along with the way the two first half goals were defended, once again left major question marks about our credentials to get back to challenging for honours any time soon.

Though United dominated the early possession, little came from it and the writing was on the wall from the moment the first clear-cut chance fell to the home side, Naismith blasting wildly over the bar after being set up by the busy Lukaku. Unfortunately, the two players combined to more productive effect later in the half, massively aided by some crass defending from Phil Jones: Lukaku’s shot was on its way to being saved by De Gea before Jones carelessly raised his arm to block its path. Leighton Baines converted the penalty, the fourth awarded against the Reds by Mark Clattenburg this season and the umpteenth occasion United have gifted a lead to the opposition.

The truth was that, though United were dominating possession, they looked contiuously vulnerable to Everton counter-attacks, resulting in a stream of chances for the home side while the Reds’ fancy work around the penalty area at the other end often looked pretty at times but tended to result in a misplaced pass or found an Everton player’s foot in the way. It was another break arising from a poorly executed United attack that allowed Everton to double their lead, Mata’s clumsy challenge followed by United’s woeful attempt at an offside trap allowing Mirallas to sneak in behind the defence and comfortably slot the ball past De Gea.

United produced a couple of moments in the second half that might have provided some slight cause for optimism that we might get back in the game, Rooney finding himself in a position to shoot but dwelling on the ball for too long, before Kagawa hit a shot from twenty yards that at least gave Howard something to keep his hands warm on. Still Everton produced a greater attacking purpose, though: both Lukaku and Barkley threatened the United goal, while Naismith narrowly failed to connect with a cross that might have extended his side’s lead, before De Gea was forced to produce a fine save from the same player after Everton had been gifted another break, this time following a mix-up between Rooney and Carrick.

It wasn’t until the 87th minute that United produced a goalscoring opportunity worth of the name, Rooney’s attempt to lift the ball over Howard producing a good parry from the former United keeper. In truth, however, a goal at the other end always looked more likely and if anything a two goal margin didn’t fully reflect the gap between the two sides.

I’ve often heard United fans throwing the allegation of long-ball tactics at Moyes this season, something which has always seemed to me a rather lazy accusation. Many of our worst performances have seen us producing far more passes than the opposition, but the lack of a threat up front combined with tactical naivety have still left us easily outplayed. That was certainly the case here. To Spurs at home and Chelsea away we can now add Everton at Goodison Park, once a happy hunting ground for the Reds, now, sadly, the scene of yet another convincing defeat.

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By RedManc

RedMancunian is the number one source for Manchester United news, insight and opinion on the most successful football club in the English top flight. RedMancunian was founded at the end of the 2011/2012 football season. We hope to provide insight on football matters related to Manchester United and provides a sense of what the club was and is all about. Follow RedMancunian on Twitter - @RedMancunian

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